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Not Seeing to Focus

Posted by terrepruitt on January 8, 2011

On Wednesday after my Nia Class in San Jose I was talking to one of my students.  Some how we ended up on a subject that had her telling me about a friend of hers who is blind but has no issue navigating the step that is not too far from her front entry way inside her home.  She was explaining that people have no problem with it on the way in, but on the way out they forget about it and usually stumble on it when leaving the house.  This led to many other tangents in our conversation but one thing it had me thinking about was sight/seeing and our focus.

I was thinking that the sighted people were focusing on the door on the way out of the house.  For me, I imagined myself leaving her house, part of my focus on her and saying our goodbyes, then another part on the door—–but with the door a multitude of other things would come into my mind and into my focus.  I would see the door and begin to think about my car, which would make me think about my drive, which would lead me to think about what I need to do on the way home, which (depending upon the hour of the day) might have me thinking about what to cook for dinner and if I needed to stop at the store on the way home—-all of which would make me trip.  I would not be focused at all on my feet and on the step and I am sure that I would stumble into the door.

With that in mind I had a focus and an intent for my next Nia class which was the one in Los Gatos.  The focus was Awareness, the intent was to connect to one’s body.  While I have used awareness as a focus before, and I have probably even used the same intent before, and I have even invited the participants to close their eyes, this time I did it more frequently.  With this routine there is a song where we are completely stationary so closing one’s eyes to allow for complete focus on one’s body is perfect.  There is also a song where we turn and face different walls (in line dancing it would be called a four-wall dance).  When we turn it often takes me and other people out of the line of sight which can often lead to one “having” to be aware of one’s own body.

To me one of the fundamentals of Nia is being in one’s body and dancing in your own body’s way, but I think that we often get distracted by the things we see.  I know that while I teach sometimes I will get distracted because I see my hair sticking up or I see something else I should not be concentrating on.  So I think that having Awareness, with the intent of connecting to the body and adding “eyes closed” to be a great tool.  We did not dance the entire routine with our eyes closed, just when it was safe to do so, when our movements were not far from our spot and there was no chance of bumping into someone.  Also, it was just an invitation to assist with the focus and intent it is not something that was required.

As the teacher I do not close my eyes as much as I would if I were the student because I am teaching and making certain that all is well in the class, but I know that the few times I did I was able to really embrace the focus and the intent.

What do you think?  Do you think that if you close your eyes you can focus more on your body?

6 Responses to “Not Seeing to Focus”

  1. niachick said

    Distractions come in many varieties. Certainly from a visual perspective there could be distractions; however, I know many folks (some very close friends) who are emotionally distracted or mentally distracted. I see it in my classes, too. I’ll bring everyone together at the beginning and I’ll share the focus and intent. The first cycle of a Nia class is setting the focus, the second cycle is Stepping In. When we step in, it is a way of inviting one’s self to leave distractions behind. After that, conscious AWARENESS (the focus of your blog post!) is key.

    I absolutely love this blog post Terre. The Nia principle of Awareness is my favorite (oh wait…they’re ALL my favorites, however, Awareness holds a particular magic for me).

    Your sharing of your own sensing of being distracted (from thinking of the door, and the step, to the car, to driving….it’s so true…the monkey mind in action!) is just wonderful. This is a great example of of Nia’s principle outside of the classroom. I’m continually amazed (but I don’t really know why actually) at how Dancing Through Life, Living Meditation and Life As Art are so much a part of my daily living.

    I am truly thankful to have Nia in my life, to be a Nia teacher, and to know that you are so much a part of my “family of friends”.

    Thanks for sharing!


    • You got it, Sister! Distractions DO come in many forms and varieties. I believe that having a focus and intent and having a “stepping in” cycle is ONE of the things that makes Nia unique, although it is also one of the things that (I believe) make it a challenge to do. It is difficult to TRULY “step in”, leaving behind all distractions. I hoped that closing one’s eyes would help in reducing the varieties of distractions.

      I think that awareness is a HUGE portion of Nia, and it really is something that is in every Nia workout, but I don’t always use it as the focus.

      That is funny that you recognized my initial story as an example of Nia’s principles outside of a Nia class. I didn’t because it was me imagining doing all that. Thank you for pointing that out.


  2. The last Yoga class I took the instructor was walking the floor around every student. I could hear her footsteps since we were in a floor pose. That totally distracted me and I could not “relax”. I haven’t been back since and my flexibility has decreased. It is so important to be aware, not just to what you are doing, but in the distractions the class my experience.

    I wish I lived close enough to take your Nia class! Maybe one weekend I can go on a Nia retreat your way. 🙂


    • There is a lot in class that can be distracting. Sometimes at the end of our class when we are lying on the floor relaxing a big huge truck will go by or a siren and it kind of breaks the calm. Bummer that you are missing your yoga class.

      I wish you could come to my Nia classes too. I know, I KNOW you would just love it because we could pretend we were driving our cars and just car dance. It would be so fun. I know Nia is really big in your state, could we not find a class near you? I am sure you would love it. So would ALL three of your girls! Them car-dancing girls! If you ever plan on being out here you let me know and if I don’t have a class going on I will put one on just for you!!!


  3. suzicate said

    What is most amazing is that “awareness” is the key to most things in life. You must be aware to focus…it enables you to proceed properly.


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